The Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) must begin a “real reflection” on its future after the “electroshock” of October 3, believe former Liberal elected officials who gathered on Saturday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the election of Jean Charest, in Longueuil.

“This is a pivotal period for the PLQ. The party is due for some real thinking, which perhaps has not been done enough in the last four or five years. The result of the last election is an electric shock. It sent a clear signal that there is a serious reconnection to be made with the electorate, and particularly with Francophones, “said the former deputy of Sherbrooke between 2014 and 2018, Luc Fortin.

For one who was also Jean Charest’s communications adviser, the Liberal Party “has perhaps been a little too Canadian in its way of being federalist” in recent years. “We have to take a more nationalist turn. It must be remembered that the PLQ has made a lot of progress for Francophones throughout its history. One only has to think of Jean Lesage’s ‘Maître chez nous’,” continues Mr. Fortin.

He salutes the work of the executive in place to “start this reconnection”, but calls for opening up horizons. “Basically, it’s to take back the voters who left the PLQ to go to the CAQ. We have to find them today. Yes, we are federalists, but there are no contradictions between our pride in being Quebecers and our pride in being Canadians, “said the former elected official.

“We need to reconnect with Francophones, with all regions of Quebec, I agree. This is the main challenge very clearly, and we are aware of it. We must also update the way we embody the liberal values ​​of economic and regional development, respect for rights and freedoms, ”acknowledges Mr. Tanguay in an interview.

“Our party is 155 years old. He knew how to face ups and downs in his past, but he always knew how to reinvent himself, to update himself. Our DNA will not change on the merits […] but indeed, the party is at a time when it must update its values, we recognize it”, persists Mr. Tanguay, saying to himself “confident that we will be able to get there “.

Earlier, in an interview with La Presse Canadienne, the former Minister of Finance of Quebec, Monique Jérôme-Forget, had also called for a deep reflection internally shortly before the event. “We live in a world of change and the PLQ, I imagine, will assess whether there is a place for him on the Quebec scene,” she said.

The one who occupied several ministries under the leadership of Jean Charest for nine years nevertheless affirms that the PLQ still has its raison d’être. “I would be very sad if he didn’t, but I read foreign newspapers a lot and witness drastic changes in the wishes of citizens. »

Accepting the worst defeat in their history in proportion to the votes cast, the Liberals of Dominique Anglade managed to save the furniture in terms of number of seats on October 3. The party thus kept the title of official opposition, its members being more than ever concentrated in Montreal.

The former Minister of Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs, Benoît Pelletier, also believes that his former political formation must “rediscover its nationalist fibers”. “I find that the PLQ has an overly absolutist conception of rights and freedoms. I think it’s going to take some refocusing over the next few years,” he said.

In April 2003, almost 20 years ago to the day, Jean Charest had won a majority government with 76 members of the National Assembly. The Liberals then won the election with 46% of the vote against the Parti Québécois (PQ) and the Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ).

“It is this government that has allowed Quebec to make several advances. We owe him the Generations Fund, the carbon exchanges, the QPIP. These are three achievements that mean a lot to me,” said Marc Tanguay.

Several hundred people were expected on Saturday to commemorate the rise to power of Jean Charest. The Liberal Party said Saturday that 14 of the 19 Liberal caucus MPs will make the trip. A speech by Mr. Charest was planned, away from the cameras and the media, who were not allowed to attend.

The Charest reign had ended abruptly with the maple spring. The increase in tuition fees decreed by the Liberals triggered a major mobilization that ended in the defeat of the Liberals and the victory of the PQ in 2012.